Monday, July 15, 2013

20 Must Have Chrome Apps for the Classroom

Googles "#1 focus is on the USER...and all else will follow."   How true is that in education too.  I am a teacher of students, not of Economics, Mathematics, etc.  When we take our eye off the ball, we have already lost the game.  Teaching is not easy because we are not teaching subjects, we are teaching individuals.

Teaching to the individual needs of students takes manpower and in public education today, we are WAY out numbered.  What are we to do?  Give up the fight?  We would make more money elsewhere. That's not in us though.  We are teachers and as John Maxwell said, "We want to make a difference, with people that want to make a difference, doing something that makes a difference."  

Enter technology, the force multiplier.  1:1, Flipped, and Blended, are not just buzzwords they are paradigm shifts.  Done correctly (supported) they can offer a truly individualized education.

This brings me to the core point of this post, to share with you what I feel are 20 of the most useful Chrome apps.  Chrome apps don't have the same fervent following as similar apps on iOS or Android, but in many cases they are just as good if not better.  What I like most about Chrome and web applications that utilize Google Authentication is the premise of a single sign-on.   In a traditional school setting (not 1:1) a student is likely to use dozens of different computers in a short span of time. With a single Google Account, that student can seamlessly access all of their files, bookmarks, settings, and applications across any number of devices.  The experience is the same everywhere, even at home. 

So, without further ado, my top 20. Some are teacher tools, but most have content creation and students in mind. Please keep in mind that there are many amazing subject specific Chrome apps (Biodigital Human, Geogrebra, etc), but I was going for a more universal approach here.  If you have questions about any of these apps, or would like to share some that you are using, please leave a comment.

Thanks to friend and colleague Teresa Thomassen for this projects foundation and inspiration.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Ignite your (students) Presentations

Storytelling is foundational to all human knowledge.  It is how information was passed from generation to generation.  Throughout history, those with the finest oratory skills often held the most prestigious posts in society.  Despite the rise of social media and various forms of digital communication, the ability to convey ones thoughts verbally (in front of a group) is still a highly desirable skill.

I basically talk to groups of teachers for a living.  The mere thought of this would have horrified my adolescent self.  While I was required to take public speaking courses in both high school and college, neither helped me with my public speaking phobia.  Thankfully my own children will have a different experience.  The Common Core and specifically the Speaking and Listening Standards (SL) embed these skills throughout the curriculum, scaffolding this skill in authentic settings.  

Enter Ignite, a fun and engaging presentation format that lends itself equally well to both professional development and student presentations.  There are only two simple rules to Ignite: 
  1. Your talk must be guided by a slideshow.
  2. The show should consist of 20 slides that auto advance every 15 seconds.
The result: A self paced presentation that forces the presenter to examine what is truly important about the information they are sharing.  Additionally, the auto-advancing slides help with drifting.  I have a bad habit of chasing rabbits  when I am presenting and once again, auto advancing slides do not permit for those types of indulgences.  

It really is that simple.  To get you started, I have embedded two videos on the subject.  The first is an Ignite on giving Ignites and the second is an education specific example.  Also, HERE you will find my auto advancing Ignite PPT template.  HERE is a Google Slide Ignite template too.

Ignite explained in an Ignite format

An education/PD Ignite

photo credit: Tc Morgan via photopin cc


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